EMU Blog

May 15 2019

EMU School of Social Work Provides a Captivating Study Abroad Experience for Social Work Students

by blogemu

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One love. The motto of Jamaica is the briefest way to describe my study abroad trip in this beautiful country. Through the School of Social Work, I was able to study abroad in Bluefields, Jamaica for the week of spring break 2019. The community we stayed in felt like a whole new world, with lush green mountains, clear blue waves, and a hidden “off the beaten path” kind of atmosphere. Bluefields is a community that prides itself on supporting small businesses and embodying the ‘one love’ motto. Wolde Kristos, our tour guide, and his team at Reliable Adventures Jamaica greatly exemplify these ideals.  

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                   The house that we stayed at for the week
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                                                 Wolde, Tour Guide

                                                     (photo by Caitlin Reed)

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Wolde was our tour guide for the week, and he and his team of tour guides, chefs, and security kept us safe, well-fed, and happy for our entire trip there. During our visit, we were able to visit multiple local business-people. I met two artists in the area: Jerry, a woodcarver, and Jah Calo, an artist. Their work was absolutely stunning and they took so much pride in the items they created. We ate at local restaurants including Dor’s, where I ordered the well-known fried chicken. Our chef, Veda, also cooked us stunning and delicious dinners each night which allowed us to try the local cuisine. I was most excited to try the national fruit, ackee.

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Jah Calo’s outstanding artwork: photo by Ariel Roberts

 

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.This class served as the social work elective “International Service Learning”, and in Jamaica, our objective was to provide knowledge on various topics through service projects in the community. We were split into five groups, each of which worked in different capacities to serve the Bluefields area. Two groups worked at the community center, one focusing on the intersections of teen pregnancy and confidence and the other educating the community on human trafficking. Another group worked at the Basic School, which is their local elementary school, assisting teachers in their classrooms. The final two groups worked at the Belmont Academy, a high school in the area, with one group educating parents and students on how family involvement impacts success and the other group teaching how to do peer mediation to a group of students. I was in the peer mediation group and we had a great time educating fifteen students about what peer mediation is and how they can implement a peer mediation program in their school. They had so much fun learning and participating in the role plays and were so proud to receive their certificates of completion at the end of our program.

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Belmont Academy (photo by Pallas Schuster)

 

While the work was important, we didn’t forget to have some fun too. We went on multiple adventures over the course of the trip. The first was a community tour where we trekked up the mountain to see the most beautiful view I have ever witnessed. On our way up we learned about the community and the nature that inhabits it. We saw banana trees, allspice plants, and goats grazing on grass. We were also able to see an allspice factory and learn about how the natural allspice is used and produced. Another adventure included going to YS Falls. The waterfall park was beautiful, and the pictures speak for themselves. We had so much fun swinging on the rope swings and splashing through the water. We also had the opportunity to tour the fish sanctuary in Bluefields. It was once a huge fishing destination, but fishing is now banned in hopes of preserving the natural environment in that area.

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Some of our group members at the beach (photo by Faith Salsbury)

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.Studying abroad was one of the best experiences I have had, and I am so thankful for the EMU Study Abroad Office for their help through the process and for the School of Social Work for creating such an educational, fun, and meaningful experience. I learned so much in a week and gained so many new friendships. If you ever get the chance to participate in a study abroad here at EMU, I highly recommend you find all the scholarships available and go for it. You won’t regret it.

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#truEMU (photo by Angela Davis)

 


About the Writer:

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Hi! My name is Pallas Schuster and I am from Cadillac, Michigan. I just finished my junior year at EMU and I am double majoring in social work and psychology. I am a member of Active Minds and the Social Welfare Action Alliance and I work as a Certified Tour Guide in the admissions office as well as a student assistant for Donor Relations!

 

 

 

 

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